If you are reading this you probably are looking for a way to improve an important aspect of your life; your financial position. The idea of getting rich quick is grand but the possibility that it will happen overnight is slim. The programs you can find are often sold to the general population by a company looking to mass market information in order to generate a profit. If there were an easy button or magic potion, wouldn’t we all be rich by now? What it takes to get rich is working hard and working smart. Let’s not discount the fact that there are individuals that have hit the lottery or developed a product that put them in the millionaire’s club seemingly overnight but their numbers are few.
Then where can you start? The first steps to improving your financial position and building wealth is awareness and action.
Know Your Current Situation.
If you are going to build something you have to start with a strong foundation. It is important to understand what money you have coming in and were it goes every month. I suggest you keep a spending journal for one month. Every day, jot down everything you spend. Be it paying bills, buying food, entertainment, it doesn’t matter what it is, if it costs money, write it down. Knowing your current situation will help you determine if you income is higher than your expenditures. Once you have determined where your money is going, you may be surprised at how much you are spending on things that is absolutely worthless. I personally liked my coffee in the morning; I determined that I spent over $1000.00 a year on my daily stops to the gas station. That is insane, and I couldn’t even account for the many times I would grab a pop or a granola bar. It all adds up. I switched to making coffee in the morning before I left; cutting the cost by a huge amount and stopping me from making those mindless purchases that drained my available cash.
Understand Your Debt
Debt has been accepted and encouraged by society as a way of life. This way of thinking is contradictory to building your wealth. Money owed reduces your net worth and is a barrier between you and saving money. There are different types of debt. First, make a list of all debt that you owe. Categorize the list into these sections. A. Home mortgages and transportation. B. Credit cards and anything that generates interest that increases the debt level. C. Anything late or potentially damaging to your credit. D. Miscellaneous debt such as that loan from Aunt Maggie last year. Once it is categorized, it will be easier to gain a perspective on the actions that you will need to take. Your priority should be taking care of any debt that is currently late, damaging your credit, or growing due to high interest and minimum payments.
Work To Eliminate Debt
I know, I am telling you to spend your money when you are trying to get more of it but trust me; this is the real way to get rich! You took the time hopefully to list your debt into the different categories. Now, take anything that is late and make it your priority. If everything is current, knock out any small bills that you can eliminate quickly. These small successes will keep you motivated and free up what you have available to pay down on the larger debt. Pick a debt to begin to focus on. My best advice is to choose the debt that is charging the highest amount of interest. The more you pay down, the less they will be tacking on in interest at the end of every billing cycle.
Know Your Credit Score
Your credit score affects many aspects of your life beside your ability to get a loan. Opening accounts and getting a job just to name a few. Your payment history along with debt level and public information such as a bankruptcy all play a part in the score. I strongly suggest you get a copy of your credit report and review it for errors. You can log on to www.annualcreditreport.com for a free copy of your credit report. Also, there are sites available to help you obtain and manage your credit report for different varying fees. If your credit needs work or if you had problems with identity theft, I suggest you begin working with one of these organizations. You need to know what is on that report, everyone else does.
Eliminate Hidden Costs
Any drain on your available cash will add up over time. Making a payment late that generates a fee, annual fees on credit cards, monthly fees for bank accounts are all unnecessary. Review each account to see if they are taking on any charges. Paying a fee for a checking account is ludicrous these days. The banks are competing for your business. You can find many accounts by searching the internet, no fees, some with higher yield interest rates if you open a checking account at the same time, others have programs available that reward you for simply doing business with them. If you have open lines of credit search for options to transfer into a lower interest rate, any reduction in continuing expenses are a few more dollars toward your financial success. Avoid doing a debt consolidation loan that stretches your payments out for longer periods, yes it looks good on paper, lower payments and even lower interest but averaged out over time it will cost more in interest.
Plan For Emergencies
Many experts say that you should have at least three months worth of living expenses put away. Reality has most of us living paycheck to paycheck. When something like a car repair comes up, we find ourselves putting off important payments in order to get the emergency taken care of forcing a game of catch up often times for months after. Start with a lower amount. Have a garage sale, sell stuff that you really don’t need, do whatever it takes to set aside $1000.00 for emergencies. Statistics show that having that amount set aside will often take care of the emergencies that crop up. The emergency fund should be held where it is not accessible for simple purchases and no, pizza and a movie are not constituted as an emergency. If you find yourself having to dip into the emergency fund, stop paying extra on the debt until you have replenished it.
Having a plan is the only way to work for something. How often would you jump in your car to go on vacation without a destination in mind? It may sound like fun but at some point you are going to have to make a decision. So why on earth we try to stumble through life without a plan is beyond me. Goal setting can be kind of scary. Why? Because you are committing yourself to accomplish something that we are not quite sure how we are going to get there, so the fear of failure comes into play. Its ok, everyone goes through it. Write down what you would like to achieve. Make them big because you are going set some time limitations and plan the actions that you need to take to get there, one step at a time. That is how we learned to walk isn’t it? Break down each goal into actions that have to occur in order to accomplish it. Make sure that each action is not complicated, if there is more than one thing that has to happen to finish the action, break it down further. Write down tentative deadlines for achieving each action. Leave room next to the date to write down when the action actually was completed. Post your goals somewhere that you will read them every day. I like to suggest the refrigerator. I know I visit mine frequently enough! This is your map. Review them monthly to add or modify, we know that life brings about surprises, good and bad, we have to be able to adapt. Finally, talk about your goals, vocalizing them will further cement your commitment to them and to yourself. If you find that people are negative toward your desire to change your situation, realize that often times they are jealous of your motivation and truly want the same for themselves.
Learn to Save
As you begin to pay down your debt, you should be finding yourself with more available cash. An aggressive goal for saving money would be 10% of your income. It is hard to save as often times when bills are getting paid we feel a sense of freedom and want to enjoy the finer things in life. That is ok, after you have met the goal of saving money. I myself, being a normal American, have a tough time committing money to savings; it is easier if I am working toward something. My goal of purchasing a home is my motivator. That still doesn’t seem to work all the time, so I have found avenues to increase my saving. I found a bank account that every time I use my debit card, it rounds my purchase to an even amount and transfers the change into my savings account. The really cool thing about it is the bank actually matches the amount up to $250.00 per year. Folks that is free money!
Adjust To Set-Backs
Let’s face it, stuff does happen. When the unexpected occurs, you have to be diligent enough to sit down and refigure your plan of action. Whether a major set back or something minor, it is very easy for us to throw our hands up and give up the fight. It may be tough but remember, procrastination and complacency are evil monsters and often times the reason we find ourselves in situations that are undesirable. Rework your budget, rework your goals, rework your commitment, but do not give up. You wanted to build wealth right? Very little worth having comes easily regardless of the get rich quick programs you can buy for $29.99 on the internet. Who is getting rich when you buy one of those anyway? Don’t take my word for it, just look at where you are and see what has worked the best for you so far.
In closing, I want to touch base on when you should start. TODAY!!! It is human nature to pick a time and date to create a basis of measurement. That is fine but why put two more weeks out of your new life to wait for the first of the month? Make the commitment to yourself to begin making changes now. Like I had mentioned earlier, every small success, every bill that goes away, will increase your motivation and confidence. So resolve not to resolve any longer, planning is yet another form of procrastination. I am a planner and a list maker. If I had back every minute that I spent on planning and poured that into action, I would be more than 50% closer to achieving my goals. Keep positive and good luck!
About the Author:
Erine’s extensive education and business background in management and business development allows her to provide trusted and innovative information designed to make a positive impact in the lives of individuals and their businesses. For more from the author please visit: www.debtisatrap.com and www.creditsecretsbible2008.com